We have the NFL in Charlotte today, had South Carolina fans celebrating college football yesterday and will have NASCAR in town this week. It would be interesting to put the sports in perspective -- what do we, in Charlotte, like best? What's the most popular sport here? I'd love to see somebody rank them.
I'm including only Charlotte and the suburbs. To know a city, you have to live there, and I've lived in Charlotte or the suburbs 29 years. I've never lived in, say, Gastonia, so to speak as if I know it would be ludicrous. I'm talking only about Charlotte and the contiguous suburbs.
I base my rankings on television ratings, attendance, response I get to columns and blogs, what people talk about at the bar, in the restaurant, on the street and in the gym.
I come into this without bias. If I ranked my favorite sports, boxing would be near the top. Alas, I have to stick it among other sports receiving votes.
(1) The NFL.
It's not close. The NFL is the sport of choice in almost every city in the country. Even if the Panthers go winless, it will remain No. 1 in Charlotte. Check the TV ratings.
(2) College football.
As much as we like college basketball, there are fans that follow the sport peripherally during the season and save their passion for the NCAA tournament. Find me a college football fan that saves his passion for the Poulan Weedeater Bowl. Everywhere you go Sunday, you hear somebody talk about South Carolina's upset of Alabama.
(3) College basketball.
College hoops obviously are huge. But check the attendance when a team other than North Carolina plays in Charlotte. Plenty of good seats are available.
(4) Major League Baseball.
We might not have a team -- and we shouldn't since we couldn't come close to supporting one after the newness expired -- but most of the people I know follow somebody in the playoffs. Even fans of the Boston Red Sox have a rooting interesting; whomever is playing the New York Yankees.
(5) The NBA.
The NBA could be No. 4. But there are college basketball fans that disdain the pro game. They cling to myths such as the pros play no defense, or play without passion, or only the final five minutes are worth watching. They're wrong. But they get to be.
A third of the male population dresses as if a game might break out at any moment. And when the Masters comes on, even the fans that watch on TV talk whisper.
Check the TV ratings. NASCAR is struggling almost everywhere. And even when it was on the way up, rather than clinging desperately to whatever grandeur it had, the sport never had a real hold on Charlotte. At the places I go there's talk about NASCAR only when I bring it up.
(9) Mixed martial arts.
(10) Ric Flair